Thoughts on Joshua Harris From A Kid Raised in 90’s Church Culture

One thing that really fascinates me is looking at the generalized characteristics of each generation – observing what they have lived through and the cultural events that have shaped them, partially responsible for making them who they are. For my generation of childhood church-goers (millennials), we were raised in a world of kissing dating goodbye and being the bride that wears white. While I can’t know for sure, I can assume the best in believing the people who spearheaded these movements had every intention to empower a generation for the cause of Christ, and it is not my objective here to shame anyone. It takes a lot of guts to be that brave and bold, and there are definitely things in my own life I wish I could go back and adjust as I look in the rear view. Hindsight is 20/20, and I have massive respect for those who purposefully dedicated that season of their lives to leading a generation into Christ-likeness.

However, despite the desire to empower a generation for the cause of Christ, as far as core methodology is concerned, the cause of Christ isn’t based on my righteousness; Jesus is my righteousness. It has nothing to do with me. And my fear with these movements is this:

It placed too much emphasis on our trying not to sin because the entire concept revolves around not doing certain things instead of pursuing the heart of Christ. The problem comes into play when we then cross a boundary line (even one that isn’t particularly “sinful”, just a line we weren’t intending to cross) and we suddenly feel like we’ve automatically lost a piece of our inherent value. I truly believe this is something that a fraction of millennials who grew up in church have had to work through and make sense of.

Here’s the thing: You are not any less valuable as a person if you’re not a virgin on your wedding night. Please hear me out and do not incorrectly assume I am condoning this sin and making excuses for it. I am not premising sex before marriage. It is un-Biblical, damaging, and there is never an acceptable reason for it. It defiles a Holy and Righteous King and therefore causes space and separation in our relationship with Him as we choose our fleshly desires over His perfect plan. It breaks the heart of God because it is a God-given boundary put in place to protect us in more ways than I can express here. Sex is a gift, and the most amazing benefits of that gift change when we use the gift out of its intended context.

What I mean is that by suggesting you have increased value based on anything other than your relationship with Jesus completely takes away from all that Jesus did. At the same time, my body is a temple, a dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. (Not to mention the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual affects choices have on not only you, but a potential future marriage.) If we’re really honest, we as a whole don’t take any of this seriously enough. We don’t talk about it openly and honestly enough. As in everything, we have to find balance. More importantly, we have to realize that if our heart is not in the right place and we are not actively seeking Christ, our actions will reflect that. Our actions follow our mind and we will never honor Him with our life if we do not submit to Him in our thoughts. In order to make choices that honor Christ, we must first pursue the heart of Christ.

This is important to note as we look at the current generation of leaders rising up to take the torch of faith. We have to have a balanced perspective that is theologically sound and grace-filled. The only way to arrive there is by coming to the Holy Scriptures. We abide by Scripture because God commands us too, but also because we know the heart and character of God and that everything that is commanded in them is done out of love.

There’s a strong possibility you’ve heard the recent breaking news of Joshua Harris (Author of “I Kissed Dating Goodbye”). Ironically enough, everything above this paragraph was written in a draft months prior to these headlines, I just hadn’t published it yet because I knew the content was intense and required much thought, processing, and prayer. If you would’ve told me all that was happening in his life and what would come of that in the future as I was spilling my heart onto the keyboard, I wouldn’t have believed you.

I read his book. I went to his brothers’ conference about doing hard things. I agreed with a lot of what they were saying. I was raised in the 90’s-early 2000’s church culture that (sometimes and with what I’m assuming the best of intentions) created this fear of dating the wrong person and being doomed to a life that wasn’t actually God’s plan because we misread things. (Again, I don’t blame anyone in particular for this and I think there are some points that are accurate. Dating should be taken seriously. I praise God that because of this and despite it’s imperfections, I don’t have any massive regrets or heartbreaks. I just think we need to do a better job at finding balance.)

So, the question everyone wants the answer to: Why did Josh fall?

Obviously, there’s no way any of us can answer this question. But why do any of us fall?

Maybe, possibly, he fell because what he was standing on wasn’t solid. It wasn’t good theology. Maybe it’s because he was running so hard towards perfection and not messing up instead of running hard and fast towards the heart of Jesus. I don’t know his heart, but I know I can do that from time to time. And in all things, we must ask, “Why am I doing this? Why do I believe what I believe? What does Scripture say and what does God think? What is God calling me to? Does this push me closer to God or pull me further away?”

My heart is truly broken and grieved over the words I read yesterday. It’s heavy. I’ve lifted Joshua and his family up in prayer. And I just want to bring the conversation to the table so that 10 or 15 years from now I don’t see an Instagram post of someone I love walking away from everything they believe because the enemy convinced them they would be more “free”. I want us to talk about how there is no such thing as true freedom a part from Jesus. In that, there becomes boundaries to protect us from bondage. But always, always, always – everything He does is to set us free in a way we’ve never known before and won’t find anywhere else.

Scripture References:
1 Corinthians 6:19-20, 7:8-9
Hebrews 13:4
Galatians 5:19-21
1 Thessalonians 4:3-5
Genesis 2:24-25
Romans 5:8, 8:31-39
Matthew 5:17-20
John 10:10
1 Peter 1:18-19
Ephesians 2:4-7

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